VIERA, Fla. - With yesterday’s split-squad games in the books, the Nationals made six cuts today, optioning outfielder Michael Taylor and left-hander Matt Purke to Double-A Harrisburg and reassigning right-handers Clay Hensley, Josh Roenicke and Daniel Stange and left-hander Danny Rosenbaum to minor league camp.
Taylor, considered the top defensive outfielder in the Nats’ organization, went 3-for-16 (.188) with a triple and three RBIs in 13 games played this spring. This will be the 22-year-old’s first time above high Single-A Potomac, where he spent the last two seasons.
Purke posted an 11.81 ERA in three spring outings, allowing seven runs on 10 hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.
Coming off multiple shoulder issues in the last few years, Purke came through camp completely healthy, however, which he takes as a big plus as he heads over to minor league camp.
“It was the first spring to be back fully healthy and be able to throw and stuff like that,” said Purke, a third round pick back in 2011. “So I got some good stuff out of it. Just got to keep working and get a little sharper and get my innings in.”
Hensley pitched four scoreless innings this spring, allowing five hits and four walks with three strikeouts. The veteran right-hander said today that he feels healthy, but wasn’t particularly happy with his last couple of outings, despite the lack of runs scored against him. He’s going to take a day or two to decide what his next move will be.
Hensley’s current contract with the Nationals contains opt-outs after spring training and in June, but he says the Nats have given him free reign with how he wants to handle this step in his career. The organization wants him to accept the assignment to minor league camp and start the season at Triple-A Syracuse, but if Hensley wants to cut ties and try and latch on elsewhere or even retire (which he says he doesn’t think he’s inclined to do now that he’s healthy), the Nats will let him do so.
I profiled the 34-year-old and his interesting throwing program earlier in spring as Hensley tried to return to the form he showed in 2010, when he posted a 2.16 ERA with the Marlins.
Roenicke, who is Ian Desmond’s brother-in-law, was signed to a minor league deal earlier this spring. He allowed four runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings this spring.
Stange appeared in two games with the Nats this spring, allowing three unearned runs on four hits.
Rosenbaum allowed a run on three hits over 3 1/3 innings. He’ll likely begin the season at Triple-A Syracuse, where he pitched last year.
These moves leave the Nationals with 49 players remaining in big league camp.